Magnus Eze, Enugu
Medical Director of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu (FNHE), Dr. Monday Igwe has lamented that the dearth of psychiatrists was affecting the mental health of the country.
With eight Federal Government funded psychiatric hospitals and about 350 psychiatrists to take care of 200 million Nigerians, he noted that the situation was made worse by migration outside Nigeria by medical workers for better pay.
Igwe, who also decried the burden of abandoned mentally-ill patients by families and caregivers in the hospital, regretted that the hospital had limited resources and yet cannot reject people in such state.
Igwe made the disclosures at the hospital during the 2020 celebration of World Mental Health Day
The consultant psychiatric said that it was expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years, more especially when attention for mental health had suffered many years of underfunding.
He said it was for the reason of underfunding of mental health that this year’s topic “Mental health for all: Greater investment- greater access,” was chosen for the celebration.
Igwe said that more than one billion people live with mental health disorder, while three million people die every year from harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.
“We are already seeing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching.
“There is a need to build more mental health facilities, train personnel and provide working materials as well as better remuneration to reduce migration of professionals to foreign countries as their services are even more needed in Nigeria,” he appealed.
He also pleaded with stakeholders to partner with the hospital for sake of humanity and service to God.
“We have a vision to make the hospital a centre of excellence in mental health care, research and training.
“The management and staff are doing our best to offer the best of mental healthcare to our people but we need collaboration from friends and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs),” Igwe said.
In his guest lecture, Dr Paul Odinka, said that no one was immune from mental illness and it could occur without prior notice.
Odinka, who is a consultant psychiatrist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, called for a sustainable means of funding mental health in the country.
He said: “With the COVID-19 pandemic; there has been increase in mental health illness among people globally even in Nigeria. This means that there is need for more investment and attention to mental health needs.
“There is a need to put mental health funding in the Universal Health Coverage by government at all levels in order shoulder the huge cost of mental health on individuals and families that will help to alleviate poverty among the people.
“There should be mechanism put in place to increase access to mental health facilities throughout the country especially for the downtrodden and rural people.”